Monday, July 1, 2013

Gluten Free Snacks on the Go!

With the summer season comes ample opportunity to pack up your gluten-free family for some outdoor fun! Whether it’s the pool, hiking, hanging out at the park, or play dates, most likely you’re going to need some gluten-free snacks.

When you’re on a restricted diet, packing snacks can feel like a bit of a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be! There are lots of creative ideas without much expense!    I have one of those adorable insulated bags, which makes things very handy, and it looks pretty as well. If you don’t have one, you may want to consider the small up-front investment.




Gluten-Free Snack Ideas

Dried Fruit

This is an absolute staple for my kiddos. They love raisins, craisins, dried apples, and lots more! You can buy them already dried from Amazon or your grocery store, or even dry them yourself with a dehydrator!

Hard Boiled Eggs

I add a little salt and pepper and put these in a small leftover container. Eggs give a nice protein punch and some substance. Of course, they can also be messy, so make sure to pack some napkins!

Cut Veggies and Dip

Cut up cucumbers, carrots, peppers, etc., and take along your kiddos’ favorite dip/dressing in a small container.

Cut Fruit

My kids especially love apples, peeled and sliced. If you’re worried about your apples turning brown, don’t be! Just mix a cup of water with 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice and “wash” your apples with it. It should keep them from browning.


Bars

My kids especially love Larabars and EnviroKidz crispy bars. These are nice because they are filling without having to mess with a sandwich.

Gluten-Free Pretzels

We love Glutino or Snyder’s.

Potato Chips

Yes I know, not terribly healthy but so nice to have around! Sweet potato chips are also wonderful, lower carb, and filling!

Gluten-Free Muffins

Muffins are substantial enough to replace a sandwich and so easy to stick in a little baggie or container to transport. They hold together well and travel well, too!

These are just a few of our usual accompaniments on a day out with the kiddos. Feel free to add a comment with some of your favorite ideas as well!


Thursday, April 18, 2013

No More Spaghetti, Please!

We had a death in the family this past week, and like any good Church Family, we were rallied around.  They brought tons of food and cards and flowers and lifted us up with prayers.  What I loved about this past week was the fact that none of the dishes were the same.  It wasn't a repeat of a repeat.  We had Chicken, Pot Roast, Chicken Tetrazzini, Hamburgers and Hot dogs, Barbecue, and amazing sides.

One of the ladies that brought food made the comment, "I didn't want to bring you spaghetti or lasagna.  That tends to be the go to for occasions such as these because they are easy to fix."

That's when it hit me.  She was right.  How many times during either a death of a loved one of the birth of a new child did your family get or provide spaghetti or lasagna?

So I decided to come up with some freezer meals that could be prepared ahead and pulled out for when you need to feed a family, yours or someone else's.

Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole is delicious, filling, frugal, and so freezer-friendly! If you freeze the bags flat, you can store them on their side like filing folders to fit a lot in a small freezer.







Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole
  • 10 cups cooked rice (white or brown)
  • 4 cups cooked chicken, chopped (I bake mine in the oven)
  • 4 cups chopped broccoli, lightly steamed (can use frozen or fresh)
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup (or 2 batches cream of mushroom soup)
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup (or 2 batches cream of chicken soup)
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

To freeze: Divide into four ziptop freezer bags and seal tightly. Freeze flat.

To serve: Thaw overnight (or for 8 hours) in the refrigerator. Dump into a greased casserole dish (each bag will fill an 8×8-inch pan; two bags will fill a 9×13-inch pan). Sprinkle with additional shredded cheese, if desired.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until heated through and bubbly.

This recipe makes around 15-18 servings. Each freezer bag serves 4-5 people.

Sundried Tomato Stuffed Chicken Breast brings one of our favorite flavors and pairs it with fresh spinach and Italian herbs.  We hope you enjoy it!





Sundried Tomato Stuffed Chicken Breast
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 6 ounces each
  • 1/3 cup fresh baby spinach, packed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup julienned sundried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup gluten and dairy free mozzarella-style cheese substitute, shredded, optional
  • 1/4 cup of shredded cheese or 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes (to be dairy-free)
  • 1 tablespoon Italian Herb Blend
  • salt, to taste

Directions:

Cut a pocket in each chicken breast.  In a bowl, mix the remaining ingredients.  Divide the mixture and stuff into chicken breasts.  If needed, hold chicken breasts together with toothpicks. 

Freezing Directions:

After stuffing the chicken breasts, place stuffed chicken breasts into a gallon sized freezer bag. Remove all the air possible, seal, label and freeze

Cooking Directions:

Thaw overnight in refrigerator.  Cook in an oiled skillet over medium-high heat.  Sear the chicken breasts on each side for 3 minutes.  Place chicken into a baking pan and cook in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes until cooked through.  Let chicken rest for 3-5 minutes before serving.

And last but not least.  Warmer weather here!  For my family, that means it is time to fire up the grill and start outdoor cooking.  Mmm-mmm…  Gluten Free Moonlight Beef Fajitas is a great meal to have in the freezer ready to go for those warm evenings you have been busy all day enjoying the sunshine.  You can sauté some garden fresh onions and peppers and toss together a salad in the time it takes to grill this delicious meal.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds beef flank steak
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 large onion
  • 2 large pepper

Directions:

Put all ingredients into a gallon sized freezer bag.  Mix all ingredients in bag, and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for several hours.  Broil or grill steak. While steak is cooking sauté one onion and one bell pepper per pound of steak. Thinly slice. Serve steak, onions and peppers on warmed corn tortillas.

Freezing Directions:

Put all ingredients, except onions and peppers, into a gallon sized freezer bag. Mix all ingredients in bag, remove as much air as possible, seal, label and freeze.  If you would like to freeze the peppers and onions place them in a separate bag and seal, label and freeze with meat.




To serve:  Thaw. Broil or grill steak. While steak is cooking sauté one onion and one bell pepper per pound of steak. Thinly slice. Serve steak, onions and peppers on warmed corn tortillas.

I hope these will help you have things in the freezer ready for the nights you don't feel like pulling something out to cook or for that time you get the call to bring food to a family in need.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easy Enchilada Casserole and a Find Me GF App!

Do you love Mexian food?  I love Mexican food. I love authentic Mexican food, kinda sorta Mexican food, trashy street Mexican food, you name it, I’ll probably eat it. However, Mexican food is not always friendly food to those who have to eat gluten free. Especially the traditional gooey, cheesy, yummy saucy things that I like to order.

This gluten-free enchilada casserole (I’m sure someone’s Mexican grandma is rolling in her grave right about now) is simple and delicious and my entire family, even the gluten loving ones, raved about this recipe.

If you have been avoiding your favorite Mexican restaurants because of the possibility of gluten, rest assured, this is the recipe for you.



Easy Enchilada Casserole
Pre-heat oven to 375°

1 Package Corn Tortillas (check the ingredients, sometimes they have additives)
1 1/2 Cans Rosarita Enchilada Sauce (It’s gluten-free)
1 1/2 Cans Rosarita Low Fat Refried Black Beans
12 oz Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 lb. Ground Beef
1 Yellow Onion, diced
1 Red Jalapeno Pepper, diced with seeds and membrane

Open re-fried beans and set aside. Place the enchilada sauce in a small sauce pan and heat until warm. Place the hamburger, onion, and jalapeno in a large skillet and cook until meat is done, drain oil if necessary.


Spray a 9×11 baking dish lightly with non-stick spray and layer four tortillas on the bottom.


Pour a ladle of sauce over the tortillas.


Add about 1/2 can of the beans and spread them out a little bit.


Add about 1/3 of the meat mixture.


Sprinkle with a little cheese and then do the process all over again until you run out of ingredients. I think I did three layers with about a cup of sauce left over. You don’t want it too juicy. The picture below is after the third layer before going into the oven. The third layer gets a more generous helping of cheese.


Bake in a pre-heated oven until bubbly, about 30-35 minutes or so. Top with green onions and tomatoes before serving.


Find Me Gluten Free is a super cool (and FREE) app for both iPhone and Android users which allows you to quickly locate gluten free businesses in your area.  You can learn more here and give the app a test run by clicking here and entering your zip code.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Slow Cooker Pineapple Glazed Ham for Easter

Teaching the kids about Easter is always a fun time.  The meaning of all the events and what Jesus went through before dying on the cross and raising from the dead three days later can be a hard concept to grasp for adults, much less for kids.

We incorporate songs, crafts and of course Bible stories.  As I said in yesterday's post we are also in preparation for the Seder Dinner at our church and learning about how the Israelites escaped the Egyptians and set off for the promised land.  This time of year plays a huge role in reinforcing and perpetuating the things that we believe.

With all of those preparations underway and thinking about our own Easter dinner for the family I have started to plan what we will have.  Yesterday I talked about a proposed menu for us to have a gluten-free Easter and one of those items was a glazed ham.

Ham is an Easter staple around our house and this year won't be any different.  I will be cooking this again for Easter and my family can't wait until then.  This ham was gone the day I made it and they are begging for more.  I served this ham with a play on fried rice and a side salad.  Next week will be the same ham but with different sides.



Pineapple Glazed Ham

1 Ham, pre-cooked, bone-in, spiral cut
1 1/2 Cups of Brown sugar
1 Fresh Pineapple cut into bits, saving juice too.

Cover the bottom of the crock with 1 cup of the brown sugar.
Place ham on top of the brown sugar in the crockpot.
Add the pineapple bits with the juice. 
Sprinkle ham and pineapple with another 1/2 cup brown sugar.
Cover and cook on low for 8-9  hours, or on high for 4 hours. 
Serve!



Check out Gluten Free Homemaker for more great ideas for the Gluten Free Lifestyle.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Gluten Free Easter

This coming Sunday my church is holding a Seder Dinner.  No we aren't Jewish, but we do believe Christ died on the cross and rose again after the third day.  This dinner is a ritual feast to mark the beginning of the Passover.  It is a retelling of the story of the Isrealites escaping the slavery of the Egyptians and can be found in the Book of Exodus.  In preperartion for the Seder, many of the church have voluntered to cook specific detailed recipes.  I chose to book roasted vegetables and a flourless chocolate cake with strawberries (right up my alley!)  I was excited to see the recipe.  I have a few recipes for flourless cake but have yet to make one.  This will be the perfect time for me to test out the recipe and see how they work out.  I will post later this week about the recipe and how it works out.

With that in mind I started thinking about what to serve for Easter Dinner. 

The Menu

Glazed Ham
Garlic Mashed Potatos
Spinach Casserole
Deviled Eggs
Hot Cross Buns (gluten free)
Flourless Chocolate Cake



Recipes for these will be coming soon.

What do you serve for Easter?  Do you have special recipes you use that are gluten free for special occassions?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Cocoa Bottom Banana Pecan Bars

Eating out or eating on the run isn't easy for people following a gluten-free diet, but you can now find bananas at almost any fast food chain, restaurant, bakery or even coffee shop.  Even the local drug store and pharmacies are stocked full of them.  They are full of fiber, so they will leave you feeling satisfied until your next meal.  Besides being great for their portability, bananas' natural sweetness, creamy texture, and high moisture content are what make them perfect for use in baked goods.


 

Today I am making for Big G some bars that she can eat for breakfast or as a snack after school.  They are super moist and yummy.  Big G says "I don't like 'em.  I LOVE 'EM."  What more could you ask for!

 



Cocoa Bottom Banana Pecan Bars

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine
5 ripe bananas, mashed
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups gluten free AP flour blend
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1.  Preheat oven to 350 Grease 13x9 inch baking pan
2.  Beat sugar and margarine in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until creamy.  Add bananas, egg, and vanilla; beat until well blended.  Combine flour blend, baking soda, baking powder, xanthan gum, and slat in medium bowl.  Add banana mixture; beat until well blended.  Stir in pecans.
3.  Remove half of batter to another bowl; stir in cocoa.  Spread chocolate batter in prepare pan.  Top with plain batter; swirl gently with knife.
4.  bake 30-35 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.  Cool completely in pan on wire rack.  Cut into bars.

makes 2 dozen

TheBetterMom.com

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

"Souper" Bowl Sunday

This week I have been trying to find information on gluten free items that my daughter could eat that wouldn't make her feel like she was limited in what she could eat.  I don't want her to look at the world as a place with limitations, but I do want her to be aware of what goes into her body.  She has started helping out more in the kitchen, especially with the preparation of her own food.  In honor of Super Bowl, we had "Souper" Bowl, at our church.  We all gathered for fellowship and soup before church,  We had a tremendous time and boy was the soup selection vast.  We had brocolli and cheese soup, chili, taco soup, clam chowder, seafood chowder, and potato soup.  Since Big G likes potato soup I decided that would be our contribution to "Souper" Bowl Sunday.  To make this a gluten free meal wasn't to difficult since the only thing with gluten in it was the flour used to thicken it.  I instead my gluten free flour blend in its place.  I will tell you life has been a little easier since I found a recipe for a gluten free flour.  You can find more inforamtion on that by reading Flour, Flour, Flour.



Potato Soup:
1 bag frozen southern style hashbrowns, thawed
1 small onion, chopped
1 32oz box chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 cup 1/2 and 1/2
3 tbl gluten free flour blend
8 oz cheddar chesse

Combine hashbrowns, onion, chicken broth, cream of chicken soup, salt and pepper in crockpot.  Stir to combine.  Cook 6-8 hours on low.  About 30 minutes before done combine in a separate bowl 1/2 and 1/2 and flour blend.  Add to crockpot and stir to combine.  Allow to thicken soup.  Stir in cheese or serve cheese on the side.